Elements of a Memoir

There are times I need to go back to the basics and dive into the elements of memoir writing. One of the topics I recently reviewed a memoir video series has helped keep me on track with my writing. The recommendation:

Choose four elements of high emotion for your memoir. Write about these times and see where they fit in your work in progress. I listed more than four when I sat down to start this project. The time frame I am working on for my next memoir begins with my last year working at the Chateau Lake Louise in Alberta and then I move to Jasper Park Lodge, a sister hotel that was part of the hotel chain. The four main high emotion times that came to mind quickly:

  1. Leaving the Lake where I was comfortable to move to another hotel with a guy who I believed loved me because he said he loved me.
  2. During an employee end of summer party: Being confronted by a girl who tells you she’s been sleeping with my boyfriend for the entire summer season and he told her that he was leaving me to be with her.
  3. The same night of the staff party – I find my boyfriend kissing another girl.
  4. After months of work on healing our relationship, my boyfriend tells me he is being pursued by another hotel and will be moving to Atlanta.

It doesn’t seem real when I read these choices, but they all happened. I am sure a version of each situation listed has happened to others. I am here to share that we are not alone. We all go through “stuff” and I am here to say how I coped and survived and can tell the story now.

More Tips on Writing Memoir:

  • Create a sensory experience: Use all your senses to recreate your experiences. What did you see? What smells can you associate with? What did you touch, how did it feel?
  • Use fiction writing techniques: Memoirs must be as compelling as a best-selling novel. I found that using dialogue helps build suspense. “Show, don’t tell” by describing action rather than overloading with exposition. Using fiction techniques can help you move the story along.
  • Don’t write your whole life story: Memoirs tend to be about sections of your life, for example: my first three summers working for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies was my focus.  
  • Knock their pants off: Create an emotional journey. Take your reader for a ride where they want to get to the next chapter. You need to create enough tension that draws the reader in. Invest the time and energy to share the truth and raw emotion.
  • Write every day: This may sound like an obvious statement, but if you plan on writing any kind of book, the best way to do this is to write everyday. Develop a daily routine that works for you. Writing is like working out, you have to work at it to develop the muscles. You have to write everyday to get the words on the page.

These are a few reminders for myself as well. I haven’t been able to write everyday on my memoir only to my own excuse. I write morning pages every day and then three days out of the work week I will sit down for 15 minutes or so to work on my memoir. It’s 15 minutes more than if I didn’t write. I consider any times spent on writing a win.

Thank you for being here with me today. I hope you are doing well; I love to hear from you.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

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